Mark Teahen may have already thrown himself out of the race

Mark Teahen may have already thrown himself out of the race
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Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune

Other than the lingering fear that Jake Peavy would reach back for the ole No. 1, and a short, quick burst of pink mist would shoot out, his arm would crumple at his side, and the Jakemeister himself would slump to the Earth in a heap, there's been only one source of dread at Camelback Ranch this Spring.  Only one specter of doom hanging over the otherwise joyous proceedings of the initial gathering of the 2011 White Sox.

It was, that until announced otherwise, Mark Teahen could still win the 3rd base job.  Scream again, if it helps.

It seemed absurd to most Sox fans who watched Teahen accumulate a -9.8 UZR, 10 errors, and 2 game-ruiners (A WSO-patented stat) in 51 games at 3rd base in 2010, but Ozzie repeatedly asserted that it would be a 'slap in the face' to just name Morel the starting 3rd baseman based on a couple weeks of solid defense.

Worst of all, he was right.

Teahen may have been Sweeney Todd out there (a butcher...get it?  GET
IT?!?!), but 51 games was too little to just write him off without a
chance for a still fairly unproven rookie.  I mean, he's still under
contract for two more years to play 3rd base, he merits a look, no?

Well,
it's been one frighteningly awful look.  Teahen committed two throwing
errors in Monday's 16-16 bizarrathon-tie game with Cleveland, one of
which extended an inning for a three-run homer (in case we needed a
reminder of the consequences of errors).  This would be bad enough--and
really, I mean that, this would be bad enough--but it comes in
the wake of the two throwing errors he committed on Saturday.  4 errors
in as many games is a bit much.

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It was thought that Morel needed to hit to win the job. Now...eh...whatever // Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune

Something that sticks with me though, is that these are throwing
errors.  Now, Teahen's throwing has never been great, but with his lack
of lateral quickness and dexterity, if he can't utilize his great
upper-body strength to make strong, accurate throws, then he really
seems pretty screwed as a defender.  Upper body strength hasn't translated into home run power, so maybe this isn't such a surprise.

So Mark has no shot at the job.  Great, right?  Wellllllllllll, only if
you thought he ever had a shot anyway; which seemed like a stretch.

He's not going to start, but with his contract, he's not going anywhere,
and neither is Ozzie's desire to get him at-bats.  If he could at least
give a hint of playing 3rd, we'd at least have the benefit of getting 250-300 plate appearances of
Teahen-level offense (read: middling) at a premium position, but it appears Ozzie's already losing hope of that:

"I've got to talk to our coaching staff and [GM] Kenny Williams in the
next meeting and see what we're going to do, if we're going to give him
a shot at third base or move him all over the place. That's the next
step, because it's not fair for him or anybody. [It will] clear his
mind--'will I be [at third] or not?' We've got to try to make the
decision as quick as we can and go from there." 

Instead, those PA's come at one of the corner outfield spots, specifically in place of Quentin
because Pierre never ever gets benched.  Teahen for Quentin is obviously
a weaker bat, but without the defensive relief one expects when they
sub out a player like CQ.  And the alternative, where Teahen mans 1st at the expense of one of the lineup's true mashers, seems even
worse.

So root for Teahen, if not so he can avoid making the White Sox outfield
worse, so that his value ticks up enough to merit an almost-decent
trade return...or just a trade of any kind.  I only warn that I tried
rooting for Teahen last season, and returns can be spotty.

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Hot links

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Future Sox looks at the future of the catcher position for the Sox.  It's better than you'd think.

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  • This writer persists in negative commentary. Does he not see that as of now Teahen has had 25% fewer at bats than the top four in the line up, and has given production 38% greater so far in spring training. You need to quit campaigning and let camp unfold. Look at his last four years worth of numbers, verses a short year with a broken finger. Surely you've never played competitively. You should be ashamed. How could you be a Sox fan with commentary like that?

  • I believe he hit around 270 his last few years with the Royals, and had a significant number of doubles. He currently leads the team in OBP and SLG for anyone who's getting AB's. His errors prior to last season were nominal and a non-issue. Once again, I say why pick on a guy when he's not healthy and recovering from a broken finger. You've set yourself up for a train wreck if Teahen just does what he's done every year since he's started. He's a positive force and well liked in the clubhouse as noted by being in an elite group of Hutch Award winners. Wake up!

  • In reply to doogiehart:

    I have no voice in the organization, so I'm not coming from any place of trying to "campaign" against Teahen, or tear him down from any spot he's earned. I couldn't if I wanted to, and I don't. If he hits .529 for the season like he's currently doing in Spring Training, obviously he'll win the MVP and probably lead the team to the title. Which would be great.

    I don't put much stock in Spring Training numbers. While Teahen raking is obviously a good sign, not a bad one, there's not a great history of correlation to the regular season for anyone. It's just too small of a sample size, and it's doubtful Teahen is as good as his outsized numbers this Spring, just as he wasn't as bad as his numbers last Spring.

    In terms of total wRC+ (runs created) for his career, Teahen has a 94, which is below average. He had one very, very good offensive year in 2006, but has floated around a .700-.750 OPS level otherwise, which is fine, but not outstanding, and not enough to compensate for bad defense.

    I agree with you that judging Teahen for his play while he was recovering from a broken finger would be unfair. His playing time was infrequent and not at a set position. However, before the injury, Teahen played in 50 games, where he accumulated the lionshare of his errors and negative defensive ratings. Total Zone ratings had him as 5 runs below average, Universal Zone Rating had him as 9.8 runs below average, and his .919 fielding percentage was very sub-par. I must disagree that this was a non-issue. According to Wins Above Replacement measures on both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference, it more than canceled the positive benefits of his offense.

    I have a dog in this fight, and it's the White Sox. Criticizing a player's performance based on my observations and statistics is not an expression of my desire for the player to fail, and certainly not the team.

    Teahen's personal work is certainly impressive, but is not a topic I addressed in this piece, or something I pretend to have any insight into. I have no reason to doubt your claims on his standing in the clubhouse, as all I know about him outside of baseball is that he participates in a lot of Sox charities and is amusing on Twitter.

    You obviously put a lot of thought and effort into your criticism, so if you want me to explain my conclusions further, I will certainly do so.

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